Worst Trees to Plant in Jacksonville

Bradford pear trees

The best way to spruce up your yard is by planting a tree. Unless you plant the wrong type of tree. Jacksonville has dozens of native and well-adapted trees to beautify your landscape. But there are some trees you should avoid planting at all costs. Here are our en-trees for the worst ones to plant in Jacksonville.

Bradford Pear

In case you haven’t heard, these stinking trees (pictured above) are actually the worst. First of all, they stink. The beautiful white flowers that bloom in spring smell awful. Some compare the scent to mold or rotting fish.

The tree’s rapid growth means its wood is weak. It tends to grow multiple trunks, which are weak and often split or topple in windy conditions. The Bradford pear is also considered an invasive weed. It grows almost anywhere and reproduces with hard-to-manage speed. Birds eat the seeds then drop them far and wide, making these trees difficult to contain.

Laurel Oak

Laurel oaks are shorter-lived than other oak tree varieties. While a live oak can live for hundreds of years, a laurel oak’s lifespan is about 80 years. These trees grow quickly and are excellent shade trees, but the wood is weak and prone to breaking. This is a concern during windy weather. These trees can also start to decay and hollow out at about 40 or 50 years of age. This can be hazardous should the tree collapse and fall onto your house or car. If you have to have a laurel oak tree, don’t plant it near your house.


Mimosa tree
A mimosa tree, at its prettiest, in blossom. Unfortunately, the rest of the year, they’re a bother. Credit: Rusty Clark, CC 2.0.

Arborists imported this deciduous ornamental tree from Asia in the 1740s. It features fernlike, feathery leaves and fuzzy pink flowers that bloom from May through July. Mimosas are stunning when in full bloom, but they are invasive and can choke out native plants. They’re quick growers, thrive in almost any type of soil, and they produce bumper crops of seeds. These seeds are viable for up to five years, and they spread in water and on the wind. Seeds and seedpods are poisonous, so keep them away from kids and pets.

Mimosas are prone to insect damage and disease. Mimosa wilt is one of the most common diseases affecting these trees. Leaves and branches yellow and wilt, and the tree eventually dies. It can spread to other trees, and seeds from damaged trees can sprout new trees with the disease. Mimosas have invasive root systems that can lift and crack concrete. Because of their strong taproots, young sprouts are hard to pull by hand. Mature trees will resprout when damaged, so cutting them down isn’t effective. Even the most-experienced arborists have trouble controlling these trees.

Paper Mulberry

Paper mulberry
Paper mulberry. Credit: Kware Ji, CC 2.0.

The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council lists this variety of mulberry as an invasive species. It’s native to Japan and Taiwan, where people use it to make paper. It’s invading forests, fields, and yards in much of the eastern United States. It grows quickly and overtakes native species. It also has a dense shade canopy.

Grass and other plants have a hard time growing underneath. This tree also sends up sprouts from the roots, so you’ll need to pull them if you don’t want a thicket of paper mulberry trees. Another downside is the messy fruit. Don’t plant this tree near sidewalks, driveways, or homes. The fruit will stain anything it touches, and the berry-eating birds will leave behind purple droppings on your walkways and porch.

Weeping Willow

Unless you have a lake and lots of land, you should not plant a weeping willow on your property. These huge, thirsty trees do well next to bodies of water, not in suburban yards. The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences says, “care should be taken not to locate weeping willows near underground water or sewer lines or close to septic tank drain fields where the roots could cause significant damage. Roots are aggressive and will spread about three times the distance from the trunk to the edge of the canopy and often grow on the soil surface.”

Weeping willow roots can also crack sidewalks and foundations. This is another rapid growth tree with weak wood that topples easily in the wind. Their size also doesn’t lend well to a typical neighborhood setting. They can grow up to 50 feet tall and 50 feet wide, if not wider. The best news given all these problems is that weeping willows don’t last long. Their typical lifespan is 20-30 years.

Avoiding the trees on this list will save you (and your neighbors) a lot of tree-related trouble. When you’re choosing a long-lasting landscape feature like a tree, make sure it’s one you can live with and love for years to come.

Main image credit: Michelle DeRepentingy, CC 2.0.

Laura Hatch

Laura Hatch

Laura Hatch is a journalist who spends her free time hiking with her husband and three sons. From Pikes Peak in Colorado to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and McAfee Knob near Roanoke, she’s made it to the summit of the country’s favorites.